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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.

sab·bat·i·cal

Sunday, August 31, 2014
The simplest definition of the word Sabbatical is this: "of or pertaining or appropriate to the Sabbath."

Wikipedia says:
"Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a "ceasing") is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita (sabbath year), described several places in the Bible, including Leviticus 25."

Wikipedia goes on to say:  "The main Bible passage for sabbatical concepts is Genesis 2:2-3, in which God rested (literally, "ceased" from his labour) after creating the universe."

Today people take a sabbatical from work, sometimes because they have lost focus or they are mentally exhausted. Others take sabbaticals to write books or to travel. And Helen Coster says,
"...a sabbatical (a word derived from the word “sabbath,” for rest) can have enormous long-term benefits if you have the determination to do it."

To say that the last year has been overwhelming would be an understatement - I lost my job, started a new one, switched churches, moved my dad into assisted-living, lost 5 people (one to cancer, one to a drug overdose, one to a skateboarding accident, one to old age and my dad to Parkinson's), endured the harshest winter since 1977, mentored a recovery worship team, started a new position as a volunteer worship pastor, discovered my 90-year-old neighbour in her backyard after a heart attack with a broken hip and wrist, became a spiritual grandpa to 3 precious baby boys, walked alongside a friend through a very traumatic experience - and today I'm discovering that all of this has taken its toll on my physical and emotional health and well-being.

My well has run dry.

Thankfully I realized that I needed help BEFORE my dad passed away in June and sought counselling and support. Today I am grateful to have supportive people walking alongside me on this journey and I'm looking forward to the good things God will do in my life when my health and strength has been restored!

Beginning tomorrow, September 1, 2014, with the encouragement and support of tremendous counsel, I am taking a sabbatical.

Sort of.

I am starting a sabbatical by taking a rest from everything I am doing EXCEPT work. Although my employer is willing to give me time off too, I am going to continue working while I dialogue with my boss about the option of a sabbatical leave. This is primarily a financial decision.

In the meantime, I have a few sabbatical goals - things I have put off or never had time to accomplish because I've been too busy or because I was procrastinating. Things like:

  • make my music available on iTunes
  • revisit the book I started writing about my time in Brazil
  • read more
  • attend a weekly support group
  • declutter boxes in my closet (that I haven't opened in 3 years!)- 
  • visit long distance friends that I've lost touch with
  • schedule massage therapy (if I can afford it!)
  • walk more (a.k.a. exercise)
  • stick to a budget
  • record at least one new song

And last, but definitely not least... I also want to commit to the "less is more" philosophy as it pertains to MANY things in my life: drink less coffee, watch less TV (or get rid of TV altogether), eat less fast food, and my favourite... less Facebook!  (According to a study by the University of Chicago, Facebook, texting and tweeting are harder to resist than alcohol and tobacco! I think we could all use LESS of that!)


There is an old expression that Christians used to wear on a button: "Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet!" I know that God is not finished with me. In fact, He may just be getting started!

And so it begins.

Moments Of Life

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
A few weeks ago I got a car upgrade - same make and model that I've owned for the last 8 years but the car I'm driving now is 10 years newer - and the new car has made me want to drive, a lot. So last weekend I decided to head over to a small town near where I live. A friend that passed away last summer is buried there and I hadn't been for a visit since she was laid to rest.

It seemed like a perfect day to visit a cemetery - cool summer temps and partly overcast. I had a hard time locating my friend's monument and finally discovered that I was looking in the wrong section of the cemetery. This caused me to read many names on the other plots while I looking for the name I knew. Two weeks ago I visited another friend's cemetery plot in Niagara Falls. After I paid my respects I found myself walking through the cemetery reading other people's names and funeral dates. I did that again last weekend.

Two months ago I lost my dad and he was buried in the States with my mom who died over 4 years ago. I think walking through these cemeteries reading the details of loss other families have experienced was somewhat comforting in the journey with grief that I am on. To know that others have felt what I am feeling, and even to know that others have experienced loss in ways that I may never know. Somehow that validated my loss, and my pain, and my sadness.

And there were so many stories. So many moments of life, which struck me as odd. Here I am walking in a cemetery, a place associated with death, and yet all I could do was reflect on the life of those who were buried there. I learned things about people I've never met - moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas, and infants who left their families way too soon.

And that's just it - yes, I miss my parents, but I will always have the memory of their lives. And the photos that I can look at to keep their faces before me. And the treasured mementos that trigger stories of our own. Stories that remind me that I was loved, and that I was able to give love in return. And that I can continue to love others around me and celebrate life in the present.

A Man Among The Myrtle Trees

Monday, August 04, 2014

Three months later, on February 15, the Lord sent another message to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah and grandson of Iddo.

In a vision during the night, I saw a man sitting on a red horse that was standing among some myrtle trees in a small valley. Behind him were riders on red, brown, and white horses. I asked the angel who was talking with me, “My lord, what do these horses mean?”

“I will show you,” the angel replied.


The rider standing among the myrtle trees then explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent out to patrol the earth.”

Then the other riders reported to the angel of the Lord, who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have been patrolling the earth, and the whole earth is at peace.”

Upon hearing this, the angel of the Lord prayed this prayer: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for seventy years now you have been angry with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. How long until you again show mercy to them?” And the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

Then the angel said to me, “Shout this message for all to hear: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Jerusalem and Mount Zion is passionate and strong. But I am very angry with the other nations that are now enjoying peace and security. I was only a little angry with my people, but the nations inflicted harm on them far beyond my intentions.

“‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I have returned to show mercy to Jerusalem. My Temple will be rebuilt, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and measurements will be taken for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.’

“Say this also: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own.’”

~ Zechariah 1:7-17 | New Living Translation